Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Located in the very south of Ecuadors Oriente is Zamora, a beautiful and peaceful town known for its gold-mining, bird-watching, waterfalls and nature walks
in Podocarpus National Park. There is a ton of accommodation in Zamora covering all budgets. I stayed 5mins from the center at a place overlooking the river
- double-room $13USD for 2. Zamora reminds me of Banos in the way it looks and feels around town, they are both lovely places.
Podocarpus National Park
The entrance to Podocarpus
National Park takes 10mins from the center of town by taxi, $4USD each way. The fee to enter the park seems to vary from everywhere I have read in books or
on the internet, some say $10USD, others $5USD. As at August 2011 when I was there, the price on the sign says $2USD although it was Sunday when I visited
and nobody was in the ticket office, so it was free.
I was disappointed not to see many birds at the park, they were hiding! I did however see a few butterflies, a spider
and amazing plants and flora with exotic shapes, smells and colors. It is possible to see some amazing birds here such as the Gallo de la Pena, known as Cock
of the Rock, and also a bird called the Paraguas Amazonico - Amazonian Umbrellabird. I wish I had seen them and I wish you good luck spotting them.
Forest and River
a swimming area by the river and safe lookout points. The forest floor is the most interesting place of all with all kinds of things growing including insect
eating plants, fungi, ferns and some flowers that looked like atoms connecting. Trails of large ants carrying pieces of leaves crossed the walking paths.
Waterfalls and Mirador
The first waterfall I saw was Cascada La Chismosa, a sign pointed to a much larger waterfall Cascada La Poderosa 510m walk away. When I got to the waterfall
there were 2 families swimming and enjoying the water, this was a nice place to sit down and relax for a while and have a sandwich and drink. Back on the path
a sign pointed to the Mirador lookout 800m away and said that it was 85mins walk away. I didn't take up the signs offer on this occasion though. I enjoyed 5hrs
at the park and made my way back to the entrance where I had arranged for the same taxi to pick me up at a certain time, which he did.
I bought some meat and
vegetables at the central markets and that evening cooked a meal in my room. The next day I did my own city tour for a few hours by foot. Zamora has a couple
of churches - Catedral Vicariato de Zamora and Iglesia Cristo Redentor. There is a museum - Museo Monsenor Jorge Mosquera and parks and monuments - Parque
Central, Malecon del Zamora, Parque Infantil, Plaza San Francisco, Monument Naya o la Chapetona, Monument Etnia Shuar and Centro Recreacional Bombuscaro. The
central park and cathedral is nice and has gardens and a fountain with a parrot at the top. From all over town you can see the huge clock on the hillside made
from steel and grass. At Parque San Francisco up the road a little there is a monument and I noticed a sign saying that there is an animal refuge in
Zamora called Izanka Refugio Ecologico.
I believe Izanka Refugio Ecologico has over 100 animals of different species,
reptiles and mammals including a Tapir plus parrots, parakeets, weasels, quail, turtles, alligators, iguanas, cuchuchos, spider monkeys, boa constrictor,
capybara, peccary pig, iguanas and gray breasted eagle. Also at Izanka there is a museum of archeology, fruit trees and a crafts shop of indigenous arts by
the Shuar people.
The River Park
I made my way to the park beside the river and saw some of the other monuments along the way.
The river park area is very nice with trees and gardens and has thatched huts for sun shelter and picnics.
Bus 80mins to Loja
couple of nights in Zamora I was ready to get a bus to Loja, its 63kms and only 1hr 20mins away, the bus ticket cost $2.40USD. I had passed
through Loja before but hadn't seen anything, this time I would. From Zamora to Loja
I saw many waterfalls on the left side of the bus. From Zamora it's 270kms to Cuenca
and 311kms to Machala.